Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Ignatius Gula Marries his Sister's Widow - History Repeats Itself

In a previous post, Two Gula Brothers Marry the Same Woman - Mary SmeyI recorded the situation where Steve Gula was married his brother's widow, Mary Smey (Smij). 

 Living in Scottdale, PA, Steve and Mary had five kids: 

  • John Gula (1906-1969)
  • Peter Gula (1913-1997)
  • Joseph Gula (1915-1997)
  • Michael Gula (1921- )
  • Stephen Gula (1921 - 1997)

Steve died on December 6, 1921 (42 years old). Mary was only 37 at the time of Steve's death. I don't know the circumstances….did they fall in love, or was it a cultural tradition….but on November 24, 1923, Mary married Steve Gula's brother, Nat Gula.  

I had already uncovered and posted about this story. 

Recently, my distant cousin (Thanks, Ian!!) provided me new information about the family and a separate circumstance where a Gula brother married his brother's widow had happened at least once before. 

Back in the homeland in the Carpathian Mountains in the small village of Wolowiec, Peter Gula (1808-1847) married Anna Smij (1808-1885). 

Peter and Anna had the following children:

  • Theodore 'Fedor' Gula (1836-1895)( My 2nd great-grandfather)

From what I can tell, village life was hard, and the population was impoverished. It is unclear if there was any school or public education. However, it does appear that many of the villagers hadn't learned to read or write. 

Peter died in 1847. I do not know the cause. Shortly after Peter's death, Anna married Peter's brother, Ignatius (Nat) Gula (1815-1888).  

Nat and Anna had the following children:

  • Peter Gula (1853-?)

Considering that the marrying of brothers and their widows happened twice in one family, we can conclude that this wasn't taboo or rare in the Carpathian Rusyn culture.

I was joking with my two daughters for when they decide to get married, they look to see if their husband's brothers are marriage material because you just never know what may happen in the future. 

Saturday, April 16, 2022

William White - Witnessed Land Sale - 1730

I am sure some families keep boxes full of mementos but going back beyond my parents and grandparents; I have nearly nothing to tell me very much about them. Nothing they held or possessed. 

I believe that finding an old document or souvenir can be an extraordinary find for those of us who love family history. A few months ago, I found a land sale document witnessed by my 5th great grandfather, William White, on eBay. It is dated Jan 30, 1730. Not often do you find a 300-year-old family signature. Lucky for me, I was able to purchase it for a reasonable amount.

The document is a land sale by Joshua Woodbury to John Borey and is witnessed by Thomas Woodbury and William White.

The White family was one of the early inhabitants of Falmouth (what is now Portland, Maine). However, they abandoned coastal Maine when the relationships with the local population became unsafe. The sons of Gloucester Reverend John White were the first to return to Maine and establish their families in what is now Cape Elizabeth. William White (b. Nov 4, 1709, d. 1758) and his brother, John (b. June 15, 1704, d. Oct 17, 1738), settled in the area of Simonton Cove. William married Christian Simonton on Jan 19, 1736. John married Jerusha Woodbury on May 22, 1730.  

The White, Simonton, and Woodbury properties were all close together in Cape Elizabeth. Part of the three family properties were sold and used to erect Fort Preble.  

William and Christian Simonton had the following children:

  • Ruth White (1744-1784)
  • Ann White (1745-1837)
  • Matthew White 
  • Christian White
  • William White
  • Mary White
  • Abigail White

Here is a picture of the bottom of the land document containing the signatures of William White, Joshua Woodbury, Thomas Woodbury, and Henry Wheeler.

Friday, April 20, 2018

AncestryDNA Hints - Proving Family Connections

I took the AncestryDNA test in 2012, a long time ago, and I have largely been disappointing. It hasn't lead to any revelations about my dad's father's birth family (my dad was adopted, not me).

The other day I saw that a 1st or 2nd cousin connection appeared and I didn't recognize the name, so it wasn't on my mom's side of the family.  What is often frustrating about AncestryDNA is the person who has taken the AncestryDNA test either doesn't have a family tree or doesn't share it.  So, I can't see how this person is related to me. 

I messaged them and they did get back to me quickly.  Turns out she is my grandmother's brother's that a 2nd cousin?  It was good to see that AncestryDNA was able to prove a closely related person that I had previously not been aware of.  Unfortunately, it didn't provide any further hints to my dad's biological father.

What occurred to me was that AncestryDNA was a nice proof point of the fact that the documented family members and the biological family members matched up.  What do I mean by that?  I have been reading a little bit recently that DNA research has uncovered a surprising number of children who aren't the children of the father they believed to be their biological parent.  Not something we probably think about too much.  However, it appears that being descended from the milkman wasn't just a joke, but in some cases a reality.

Which brings me to AncestryDNA hints.  These are interesting, because not only do they indicate that you are related, but will show your common ancestor. This is only possible if you and the other AncestryDNA user have built out your family trees to the point where you both capture those people you share in common.

By seeing DNA matches to people you share an ancestor with it does help to reduce the possibility of a 'milkman" situation in your family tree research.

Of the 16 AncestryDNA matches with hints (only 12 made their trees public) it was interesting to see that the following showed a DNA connection (of course, these could be wrong and we could be relates through unknown relatives, but with multiple DNA connections with the same ancestors, that seems unlikely). 

In 3 of the 12 AncestryDNA hint matches I can see we shared the common ancestors of Moses Godfrey and Deborah Cooke.

This was significant because Deborah Cooke was the granddaughter of Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower.  Further proof that I am a Mayflower descendant.

If you haven't looked at your AncestryDNA hints, check it out as it may lead to some interesting information.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Mayflower Society Acceptance

It has been a long time coming.  I started my journey of discovering my connection to the Mayflower about 7 years ago.  I have a bit of a special circumstance since my dad was adopted.  I knew my mom's family history (only a few generations in the United States) and my dad's adopted family history (which I wasn't genetically connected to).  However, 7 years ago, my brother had discovered my dad's birth mom in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.  We discovered this whole new family history which had never been known to us.

It took a few years, but I was able to trace the family history back to Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower.  However, anyone who has done genealogical research (especially using will tell you that some times the information you gather can be a little flimsy at best.  I worked diligently to gather the information that I needed to be sure my information was accurate and defensible.

In November 2016, I started the process of applying to the Mayflower Society.  I will admit I had been putting this off as I had gathered all this information and I "knew" I was descended from Stephen Hopkins, but had this fear that the society would reject me as some of the documentation wasn't "perfect".  It isn't easy to get birth certificates, marriage certificates and death certificates for the last 400 years.

One of my biggest challenges was David Godfrey's daughter who married Peter Bishop.  David Godfrey's daughter was born in New London, Connecticut around 1757.  Unfortunately, Benedict Arnold (yes that Benedict Arnold), burned the town of New London during the revolutionary war and all the vital records were destroyed.  Luckily, I was able to find the will of David Godfrey where he provided a sum of money for his granddaughter, Elizabeth I was able to prove the family connection to the other family research that I had completed.  To this day, I still don't know David Godfrey's daughter's actual name...there is no documentation of it. 

The Mayflower Society Historian I worked with at my local chapter has been fantastic.  She identified a few documents I had been missing in my application and through some delays on my part the actual full application with the necessary documentation was finally submitted on August 14, 2017....a little less than 5 months later....

Last night I received an email from the Mayflower historian.

Dear Chris,

I am so happy to inform you that you have been accepted into the Mayflower Society.  I know this was very important to you and a great honor.

You will be receiving a certificate and a copy of your approved application from our state historian, Muriel Cushing in a few weeks.

I couldn't be happier!  For those of us who love genealogy it is a great feeling to have your hard work and research validated and confirmed.

I am proud of finally being able to prove our family connection to the Mayflower and think this is something that my kids, future grandkids and all future family members will appreciate.

In addition, I want to acknowledge and say how much much I appreciate all the help I have received from distant family members in parts of my research.  Amateur genealogists are the most helpful people on the planet and I don't think I could have felt confident in submitting this application without the help of those distant family members who helped me uncover family stories, previously unknown to me family history documents, birth certificates, obituaries, etc.  Thank you so much!

For those of you who follow my blog because we are distant Fuller cousins....get those Mayflower applications ready as this approved applications just made your own applications a lot easier.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

James Armstrong and James Armstrong Jr of Falmouth and Cape Elizabeth, Maine

In a previous post, Armstrong Family of Falmouth, Maine - Puzzle Starting to Fall Into Place, I mentioned that it was my belief that James Armstrong arrived in Falmouth with his children in 1718.  We can say confidently that he arrived with his sons John, Simon and Thomas and his daughter Jean who was married to Robert Means.   There is some mentions of James as a brother to John Armstrong and mentions of James as father to John Armstrong. 

In my Armstrong Family of Falmouth post,  I make the point that there are likely two James' (father and son) who arrive in 1718 as records reference a James Armstrong which remarried after his first wife died to a woman named Mary.  The records indicate that they had three children:  Thomas (b. 1717), John (b. 1720) and James (b. 1721).  There is at least one obvious flaw in this assertion....James Sr. already has a living son named John and he is with them in Falmouth in 1718.  I do not know of a circumstance where someone names two of his sons by the exact same name.  Is this is a Scotch- Irish tradition I am not aware of?

I just received a copy of a list of the Heads of Families of Falmouth circa 1733.  Falmouth at this time included Portland, South Portland and Cape Elizabeth, Maine compiled The list was compiled by Peter Walton.  According to Willis in Smith and Deane #8 Walton died in he couldn't have compiled it after 1733.

The list enumerates about 200 families living in this area at this time including (here is a group of  my relatives listed):

  1. Robert Means
  2. James Armstrong
  3. Mary Armstrong
  4. William White
  5. John White
  6. Simon Armstrong
  7. William Simonton
  8. John Barber

The first things I notice is that there is a James Armstrong listed as a head of a family.  We know that a James Armstrong from Falmouth died in May 3, 1724.  Maybe this list was compiled prior to his death.  However, other records indicate James' wife's name was Mary.  The only way Mary would be listed as a head of household is if she is widow.  So to have both James Armstrong and Mary Armstrong listed it would mean that Mary Armstrong's husband is dead and another James Armstrong is still alive.  Therefore this strongly supports the idea that James Armstrong Sr. arrived with a son, James Armstrong Jr and it was the son who died in 1724.  This evidence would appear to be definitive.

Who are these other people?

Robert Means is husband of Jean Armstrong.  Jean Armstrong is James Armstrong Sr.'s daughter.  In a few years, Robert and his family moved to Saco, Maine.  According to some reports, James moves to Saco, too to be close to his daughter and her family.

William White and John White are brothers who are related from the original settlers to Falmouth before that were run out when the local Native American tribe forced them out.  The White family moved to Gloucester, Massachusetts.  They still had claims to the family land there and the White brothers returned to claim that land.  Both men are accepted as Falmouth owner citizens on May 4, 1730.  In addition, I have seen land grants to William White as early as 1728.  William White married Christian Simonton in 1736.  They are my 5th grand parents.

Simon Armstrong is another son of James Armstrong Sr.  Simon married Isabella.  They are also my 5th grand parents.

William Simonton is likely Christian Simonton's brother. 

John Barber (also spelled Barbour) was married to another of James Armstrong Sr.'s daughters, Mary Armstrong.  It appears that John and Mary married in Ireland and may have arrived in Maine after 1718.

This document was helpful in putting final confirmation of my theory about James Armstrong Sr. and James Armstrong Jr arriving together to Maine in 1718.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

John Armstrong of Falmouth, Boston and Saco

As I have mentioned in previous posts, James Armstrong arrived with his children to America in 1718. These children were:  Jean (married to Robert Mean, James, John, Thomas and Simon.

Simon Armstrong remained in the Falmouth and Cape Elizabeth, Maine area.  However, his siblings all moved to other areas.

John Armstrong seemed to spend most of his time in Falmouth, but may have left for a few years to remove to Boston.  It is believed that he married Rebecca Thomas on July 28, 1724 and returned to Falmouth before 1726.

On March 26, 1726 he became an elder of the First Congregation Church of Falmouth and in 1733, John Armstrong, William Jameson, Robert Means, Robert Thorndike and Johnathan Cobb were dismissed from the First Congregation Church to form the Second Congregation Church in Falmouth/Cape Elizabeth.

Land sales of John Armstrong to Samuel Waldo, York deeds book 16, Fol 167 pg 509. Sept 14, 1733. 

Land sales of John Armstrong to James Winslow, Cumberland County website 8/16/1760.  At this time, John Armstrong is living in Pepperllborough (present day Saco, Maine) and is described as a cabinetmaker. States that this land was originally belonging to his father, James Armstrong.

Robert Means and Jane Armstrong Means removed to the Scotch-Irish community at Saco, Maine.

In the Means Family Genealogy, it indicates that James Armstrong Sr (Jean's father) already lived there.   In addition, it appears that after 1733 John Armstrong moved back to Boston.   For how long isn’t know.  He developed the skill of being a cabinetmaker.  John Armstrong who was the head of the Boston line of the Armstrong family had moved to Saco (Pepperellborough) Maine from about 1750 to about 1770.  After 1770, It is believed he returned to Boston.  

While living in Saco, he lived not far from his sister Jane Armstrong Means.  This is from the book published in 1830 named History of Saco and Biddeford pg 262. 

We only know of one child of John and Rebecca Thomas Armstrong.  His name was John Armstrong b. circa 1725 in Falmouth and moved with his parent to Boston after 1733.  

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Simon Armstrong of Cape Elizabeth

When you read about the Armstrongs who arrived in America and specifically Falmouth, Maine you will see several references to John Armstrong and some of James Armstrong.  You don't see hardly any references of John's brother, Simon Armstrong.

In fact, there is not many of records of Simon at all.  Which is too bad as he is my 5th great-grandfather.

Simon Armstrong was born circa 1701 in Ulster, Ireland.  His family was originally from Scotland.

Simon Armstrong came to Falmouth, Maine with his father and siblings in the Winter of 1718.  He married his wife Isabella very soon after he arrived in America.

Simon and Isabella had the following children:

i. Isabella Armstrong:  b. 1719 m. John Jordan 1738
ii. Elizabeth Armstrong: b. 20 Apr 1729
iii. John Armstrong:  b.  Oct 1731 m. Lucy Cop 23 Dec 1755
iv.  Sarah Armstrong:  b. 1736 m. Andrew Simonton Jr. 27 Dec 1754

Based on the gaps in the dates of the birth of Simon and Isabella's children that it is likely we are missing several of their children.

Simon was a corporal in Col Westbrook's regiment between Nov 22, 1724 and May 22, 1725.  While fighting Native American's he suffered a wound to his head, but did survive.

Simon received multiple land grants from the Town of Falmouth and Cape Elizabeth, Maine. In 1733, Simon Armstrong sold a portion of his land to Samuel Waldo.  (York Deeds Book 16, Fol 161 pg 492-493.  Sept 5, 1733.  This land transaction identifies Simon's wife as Isabella Armstrong.

My great grand Aunt, Marion Armstrong, stated that as a young girl she has seen one of the original land grants from 1747.  She incorrectly remembered that it was a land grant to Samuel vs Simon. Unfortunately, those original land grants were lost in a fire.

According to the list of parishioners of the Second Parish of Falmouth in Cape Elizabeth the only Armstrong listed in 1743 is Simon Armstrong.   All of James Armstrong's other children had moved out of Cape Elizabeth by this time and Simon's children are too young to be parishioners.

In a land transaction from March 7, 1772, John Armstrong (Simon's son) sold land to Nathaniel Dyer which was partial from land grants to Simon Armstrong and James Armstrong (John had purchased some of the land granted to James a few years before from another relative).  This land transaction further indicates that this John Armstrong was Simon's son.

In fact, John Armstrong and Andrew Simonton Jr owned several parcels of land jointly.  Which would be unusual except for the fact that John and Andrew were brothers-in-law.

I recently found this document which is Simon Armstrong providing an affidavit in 1770 where he testified to the fact that William Roberts had owned a piece of land which must have been in dispute. Here is a copy of that document.

We don't know exactly when Simon Armstrong died, but I did see a reference to probate of his estate as follows...administration granted to John Armstrong, gentlemen of Cape Elizabeth, on the estate of his father, Simon Armstrong, yeoman.  Dated July 18, 1778.